This post is sponsored by Allstate. All opinions are my own.

If you've ever considered building a home, you are in for the best time of your life. To be able to build your home will be so meaningful to you--especially throughout the different steps of the process. From the initial decision to selecting a builder, to the floor plan selection, interior details, and exterior, it's filled with the most exhilarating moments, and yes, the most stressful moments, too.

When Chris and I decided to build our home, we toured the model once, and we knew that we wanted our home to be similar and that a new build was right for us. When all is said and done with a fixer-upper, (as much as I wanted to channel my inner Joanna Gaines) with our work schedules and the housing market near us, it would have ended up costing way more to fix up an old house than it was to just build it how we wanted in the first place.

So, in true Jones family fashion, we hustled hard, and we are building the home of our dreams. We're building a three-story, three bedroom, two and a half bath house with my heavenly white kitchen, open-concept main level, and deep espresso floors. It will be the perfect mix of modern and farmhouse--especially as we add in our vintage finds and "homey" elements that we've collected over the years.

Now I know if you've been following along with us on this journey, it's seemed like all rainbows and sunshine, but if I'm being honest, whenever there's a rainbow, there's always a storm. We had gotten from January to May without any delays or issues, but of course, in true spring fashion, the rain decided to show up and delay our home.

For today's post, I've put together a list of the things you need to know before building a home. They're definitely things that I wish that I had known and that friends of ours that are building right now as well wish that they had known, too! Alrighty, let's dive in.

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One // Bring a trusted realtor with you to the initial touring walk-through

Our realtor has been amazing through this entire process. She's one of my co-workers, and she has fought for us each step of the way like we were her own kids, as a trusted realtor should do. She came with us to the initial tour of the model home, and it was so great to have her with us to ask the questions we would have never thought of: Building timelines, HOA fees, Lot premiums, Features & upgrades, Inclusions, Package pricing & details, Sellers assist...The list goes on & on.

If we wouldn't have brought her with us, we would be without a luxury kitchen, no island, no sellers assist, and without many other things, because we wouldn't have known to ask about these things. If you're in the Philadelphia area, send me an email, and I can hook you up with the best realtor in the area!

Two // Read reviews for reputable builders

We truly hit the lottery with our builder. They have been great with communication at every stage, with timeliness (that's within their control) and with helping us personalize our home. Some builders out there don't allow you to customize as much as you want, so be sure to research these things ahead of time so that you're not stuck in a contract you don't want to be in.

Reviews will always be open & honest, so read each and every one. Remember, most of the reviews online will be bad reviews, because people are more likely to put up a bad review than a great review. Our builder's reviews were stellar with a few not so great reviews, but once we did research on why they reviewed the builder that way, we found out it was due to their mistakes, not the builder's.

(P.S. Below is a sneak peek at some of our interior details--Our kitchen countertops, cabinets, espresso hardwood floors, bedroom carpet, and wood blinds!)

Three // Do your research & be educated

Something else that has helped us along the way is staying educated on the home building process itself. We asked questions about the mandatory sprinkler systems due to having a townhome, how wide the firewalls in between houses were, plumbing and electrical questions, and even little questions about where receptacles and outlets could go and still be in code.

The best thing to do is research more than you think you should, because it will help in the long run. This is especially true when you are going to design meetings, and have to pick the interior details of your home. Depending on your builder, you might have a custom package for your floor plan, where you get to pick out from a few layouts & packages. With our home, only a few select options were selected for us, but they actually worked in our favor.

We have a navy gable on the front of the house, and our gray siding & black door were chosen for us, but everything else has been up to us. That means we had to be educated on flooring and cabinetry, countertop materials, and the longevity of trends and what would be timeless in the end.

Scroll through Pinterest and see what styles you like the best. When you get into a design center and see tons of different options, it might look great at first, but not together. Bringing ideas with you will allow the designer to help you choose the right finishes that you're sure to love.

Chris and I also decided that even though we plan to be in this house for the next 10-15 years, if we should outgrow it and need additional space in less time than that, we want it to be the most desirably styled home, but also not the most expensive in the neighborhood for selling purposes.

Four // Upgrade where it counts

We've all heard that the kitchen and bathrooms are truly what sells the home. Go ahead, splurge on that kitchen, girlfriend. In the kitchen, we lucked out and loved the basic white shaker style cabinets, and only upgraded the cabinet & drawer pulls to bars. This makes it easier to change out the pulls later since both holes are already drilled. We also upgraded the countertops from granite to quartz. It's ever-so-slightly more expensive (around $5K more), but now they're more durable and don't require to be resealed every few years.

Also, be sure to check with your builder if they have any "luxury" packages or upgrades that they have put together based off of what is most popular within their builds. With our builder, they had a really affordable package that included an upgraded kitchen, hardwood floors on the main level, a deck (yay!), all of our appliances, finished family room on the lower level, and an additional powder room in our home. This saved us so much money in the long-run since they already had the package discounted by tens of thousands of dollars. 

Remember, it's always cheaper to add additions and major upgrades before it's built than wait for it to be built and add it in later. For example, we added a bathroom in our master bedroom, and to add it in after would have been about $15K, but because we added it in during construction, it was only $5K, which is nothing considering the value it adds to the home. Taking a three bedroom and one bath home to a three bedroom and two and a half bath home screams value and smart decisions.

Five // Add $20-$25K to the base price

The base prices of a new build always look so desirable, and they're meant to be that way. It's how they sucker you in, but always remember to add upwards of $25K (sometimes more!) to that base price for you to really get a home that you'll love. We ended up adding packages, the bathroom, and our kitchen upgrades, which of course added on extra $$$. Something else to consider is that when you're touring the model home, of course, it's going to have all of the bells and whistles. The base home does not usually have nearly half of these things. Everything from cabinet pulls, door handles, flooring, cabinets & countertops, and even adding in lighting to bedrooms will cost you extra money.

The amazing thing is that builders know that their clients will ultimately want to upgrade several of these things, so if they're like our builders, they create those packages for you, and I urge you to research the pricing, because most of the time they will work in your favor and save you tons of money in the long run. It may seem like a lot up front, but like I said before, consider how much it would cost to add it in before the build and after.

Six // Mentally prepare for delays

Delays were something that I was not prepared to deal with. Thankfully, we are living with friends of ours while our home is being built, so at least we have a place to live, but others might not be so lucky and have such a flexible living situation. With any new build, there can be countless delays, and they're not the builder's fault what-so-ever.

The weather determines pretty much every step of the way. The rain has delayed our build 1-2 months so far, but hopefully, that's all it will delay it by. With the rain, it can delay framing and roads going in, which delays the independent contractors, which then delays literally everything else. If one thing is off, then so is everything else. You don't realize just how much goes into building a home and all of the necessary steps it takes. But, one thing I urge you to remember is that no matter how delayed your home is, you want it to be done correctly. So, if you're not able to have a flexible timeline, a new build is definitely not right for you.

Seven // Hire an outside inspector

No matter how much you love and trust your builder (like we do!), it's still a smart business decision to hire an outside inspector to inspect pre-drywall and upon completion. An inspector that is hired by the builder might not catch everything, and when you're talking about spending an additional $200 at this point, it's worth it--especially if they save you thousands of dollars in repairs later, because they caught an issue early on.

If you don't have an inspector that you know or trust, ask your realtor. They will have a trusted inspector that they can recommend. This is also where you want to do your research all over again, and be prepared to know what you're entitled to request to be fixed and how things should look at this point--especially pre-drywall and during your final walkthrough.

I'll be bringing my Dad to our pre-drywall walkthrough, because he did HVAC for over 40 years, and will definitely know if something is off with the unit and ductwork. It's better safe than sorry for us with these things. He also knows electrical work, so it will be helpful for him to know how these things are wired behind the walls in case we have any fun projects for him later down the road.

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Eight // Get a homeowners insurance quote

When doing a new build, homeowners insurance is one of the first things they ask you about after you select the custom options for your home. We started to get quotes shortly after we made these selections in order to get a more accurate estimate on our monthly payments and mortgage.

When getting a quote for homeowners insurance, they will ask so many details about the home. Questions like: How many bedrooms and bathrooms? What flooring is in each room? How high are the ceilings? Do you have sprinklers? Alarm systems? Relative location to the nearest firehouse? Do you have a fireplace? All of these things determine how much it would cost to cover your home should the unspeakable happen and determine all the money-saving discounts you could qualify for. Be sure to ask an agent about any discounts if you are a first-time home buyer and/or you are buying a brand new home!

Standard homeowners insurance policies will cover things like theft, fire & smoke, lighting, hail & wind damage, and water damage from plumbing and appliances, but there's so much more to know than that. If you need a little refresher on what exactly different homeowners insurance policies cover, you can check out this article and video from Allstate where it helps explain what home insurance is and what is typically covered.

If you're looking for a deal (I know I always am!), with Allstate, by bundling your home & auto insurances, you can save upwards of 25%! I highly recommend calling and chatting with an Allstate agent so they can help you make these mind-boggling decisions on the right homeowner's insurance coverage for you and your home.

Nine // Add a personalized touch to the home building process

When building a home, it's not often that you're able to just waltz right on in. Builders have contracts that you sign in order to keep you out of harm's way that basically states you're not going to enter your home without written permission and/or an escort. Not only does this keep you safe, but it also allows them to get their work done without any distractions or people in their way.

When you're finally able to walk into your home--most of the time for the very first time, it will be during the framing/pre-drywall walkthrough. This is such an exciting stage, because all of those piles of wood are finally turning into your home, and you can start to envision the rooms, where you'll put furniture, and eventually living your best life.

Since all of the framing will be exposed, something that is very meaningful to us is personalizing that framing for each door frame. When we go to our walkthrough, we'll be bringing permanent markers to write scriptures, quotes, and of course signing our framing before the drywall goes up. No one else will really know it's there, but it's something that Chris and I know is there, and it's something I've always dreamed of doing, and never knew if I'd get the opportunity to do. A few weeks ago, we chatted with our builder, and they're going to help us make this happen and I cannot wait to make this come to life! Of course, I'll take pictures so I can share it with you!

*Update: Here's a couple of pictures from our walk through towards the end of June!!

Ten // Bring extra money to closing

Save, save, save, my friends. One of the greatest things about building a home is the amount of time you have to save money towards closing. Most home buyers have all of a month or two to get their finances in order and cough up any extra money at closing. When you're building, you can set monthly goals for yourself in order to save above and beyond what you actually need.

I highly recommend bringing extra money to cover any added upgrades you may have added. So far, we will be bringing extra money to cover the cost of our electrical and lighting upgrades, our blinds, and some of our added finishing upgrades.

The less money you have to add into your mortgage, the better. When you think about it, if you have the extra $5-$10K sitting around in your bank account now, why pay interest on it for the next thirty years?! In having those extra six to twelve months (depending on your building time-frame), this allows you to save this extra money, pay off any debts, and also build up your emergency fund.

I hope you can take away a lot of tips and things you need to know before building a home. It's definitely not a stress-free journey, but it's one of the best decisions we've ever made. 

Have you ever considered or are you considering building a home?!
Have you built a home before?! Let's chat in the comments!

This post was written as part of the Allstate Influencer Program and sponsored by Allstate. As always, thoughts and opinions are my own. As the nation's largest publicly held personal lines insurer, Allstate is dedicated not only to protecting what matters most, but to guiding people to live the Good Life, every day. Thank you for supporting ACF!

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